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Applause for frontline health careworker grads

Ira Sharma Chhibbers of Vankleek Hill is part of the graduating group from the first round of a new program set up by Centre de services a l'emploi de Prescott-Russell Employment Centre (CES) for training personal support workers. The new CES program will help fill the increasing need for frontline healthcare personnel in Eastern Ontario. — supplied photo
Ira Sharma Chhibbers of Vankleek Hill is part of the graduating group from the first round of a new program set up by Centre de services a l'emploi de Prescott-Russell Employment Centre (CES) for training personal support workers. The new CES program will help fill the increasing need for frontline healthcare personnel in Eastern Ontario.
supplied photo
Virtual applause from officials for the provincial government and local employment and education agencies heralded the graduation of three dozen new frontline health care workers for Eastern Ontario.

“This is just the beginning,” said Jean Dubois, skills development coordinator for the Centre de services à l’emploi de Prescott-Russell Employment Centre (CES), during a February 18 virtual press conference.

The focus of the event was to celebrate the graduation of 35 new certified personnel support workers (PSW) from a new training program set up by the CES last October as a joint project with the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development through its Skills Plus Ontario program, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), and Job Zone d’emploi. Many of the graduates of this first phase of the training program have already found employment as front-line health care workers in the region and program officials expect the remainder will soon find positions working with seniors or the disables in long-term facilities or through social service agencies.

“This (training) opportunity came to me as a blessing,” said Ira Sharma Chhibbers, a Vankleek Hill resident, who is now looking for a PSW position after graduating from the program. “I know there are many challenges, but I am up to them. I’m positive I will get something soon.”

The first phase of the PSW training program was offered in English in Vankleek Hill and in Cornwall. The next phase of the program will provide bilingual training for 44 participants.

“We are very proud of the success of this innovative project, which allows for accelerated training of personal support workers,” stated Lionel Renaud, CES board chairman. “The need for this type of employee was there long before the pandemic, but it was accentuated and made more pressing as the (COVID-19) situation progressed, and the Centre is certainly very pleased to contribute to the development of the workforce in our region.”

The goal for the CES program is to have 75 new personal health workers trained and certified by June this year for work with seniors and people with special needs in the Prescott-Russell, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry regions and in Cornwall.

« It’s been a difficult year, » said Kim Gregain, Job Zone d’emploi executive director. « This program came at a time when we need frontline health workers. »

« They are wonderful, they are amazing, » said Sandra Michaud, nursing coordinator at Maxwell Manor, one of the practical training site for the program’s participants. « They are compassionate people who really want to work with our seniors. We need these extra people to take care of our most vulnerable. »